Accessability Links

THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Wednesday 29th April 2015
Technology is changing the way we live our day to day lives from things such as how we shop, travel, communicate and could be set to enhance health care systems around the world.

Tech giants worldwide are seeing the health industry as a potential gold mine. With thoughts that the technology industry could potentially hold the key to a brave new world of medicine, solving medical mysteries and lead to ground breaking innovations which could save time and money on healthcare worldwide.

Medical data is the most sought after ingredient of tech companies today. Google’s Larry Page predicts 100,000 lives a year could be saved if he could get his hands on all the data being generated by the medical industry. IBM also announced that they will be hiring hundreds of people to help analyse reams of health data using a Watson super computer.

WHAT’S ON THE MARKET AT THE MOMENT?

Application developers have recognised the importance of entering the health market for the last couple years as modern day consumers continue to become more and more health and wellbeing conscious.

At the moment the applications on the market are fairly limited in their approach, although they can help users monitor their health for example - track symptoms, calorie count, monitor steps and distance in exercise, and enable users to keep track of their progress when giving up smoking. Health applications are at this stage still in their infancy.

IS THIS EXPOSURE TO HEALTH AND WELLBEING CAUSING ANXIETY FOR APP USERS?

Health officials at the British Medical Journal argued that although health apps are promoting a healthier wellbeing and lifestyle they can also be causing unnecessary anxiety as the apps open the user up to an increasing fountain of information. Dr Des Spence, a GP in Glasgow, argued that the apps were “untested and unscientific” and opened the door of uncertainty. “Make no mistake: Diagnostic uncertainty ignites extreme anxiety in people,” he wrote. As an example of this, symptom tracker apps such as NHS Health and symptom checker and ‘Itriage’ allow users to enter their symptoms into a search field which then generates and displays results of potential illnesses and causes which include worst case scenarios. This in itself can not only increase anxiety in users who have ‘self-diagnosed’, but also put pressure on the health service with increased numbers of people seeking professional medical attention for illnesses that the user may not actually have.

In addition, because many of the available health apps rely solely on the information inputted by the user, results generated by that app are dependent on the information being correct and accurate. Therefore where a user enters false or inaccurate information or is not completely honest, the results will be inaccurate..

THE FUTURE OF HEALTH TECHNOLOGY…

The future of health technology promises to offer so much more than the current offerings that are reliable and could offer valuable insight for the health service, generated by the patients themselves which, if done well, could provide valuable time and money savings for the healthcare sector. Here’s a taster of what to look out for:

SMART PILLS

In addition to wearable devices featuring health apps, smart pills are currently in development. These pills when swallowed will measure your health from inside your body transmitting data to the cloud accessible through apps on your smart device.

The pinhead-sized sensor is powered by the body and can monitor various health indicators, such as activity, respiration, sleep and heart rate. The Gates foundation and MircoCHIPS are working on a implantable device that can be filled with a 16 year supply of birth control. A remote control will turn the device off and on when required. 

SMART CONTACT LENS

Google is in the midst of developing more wearable tech and currently working on a contact lens capable of constantly measuring blood sugar levels. This will be extremely valuable to Diabetics and will also provide a great way to measure dietary choices for users by having data which will show them if they are consuming too little or too much of something.

MICRO CHIPS

Micro chips are set to become a key ingredient in this ‘brave new world of tech’. Microchips can now be made that are smaller than a grain of rice. Chips will be used to track the health of users over long time frames – up to 10 years. This would give healthcare professionals access to ground breaking data over a period of time, making room for a greater understanding of different health conditions and how they develop or change over time.

However, this brave new world of health technology is not without its critics...

SO WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?

Many consumers will love having the option of monitoring their own health in these new innovative ways. But what if they want to opt out?

Opting out seems like it will be more and more difficult than just deleting an app as technology continues to develop.

For example: the smart pills and microchips will need to be ingested or injected in order for them to be as accurate and as ground breaking as they hope. So how will users be able to remove these tracking devices from their systems, surely it will be a longer process as they will be unable to do this personally? This could leave users feeling that they are not in control of the process making people less people likely to take part.

Of course conspiracy theorists are already starting to fret that the health service will start to exploit patients in order to get their hands on data by secretly implanting the devices in vaccines, food and medical pills. But surely this won’t be an issue, as users will be willing to track themselves?

Another concern is the cost. These new tech innovations will be sure to cost high amounts to manufacture and monitor. Will the cost alienate those consumers who can’t afford these prices? Shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity available to monitor and keep an accurate tracking on their own personal health?

What are your thoughts would ingestible smart pill be something you’d purchase? What would your concerns be, if any?

Let us know by tweeting us @amsourcetech

Follow us for more blogs,jobs and insight on LinkedIn.

For a deeper look into this topic check out this article by The Guardian .
Add new comment
*
*
*
Back to Top